By IvyLee Rosario
From Coca Cola and DreamWorks, to Sketchers and Cartoon Network, the Licensing Expo has it all. Known as the largest and longest running licensing trade show in the world, the Licensing Expo is entering its 35th year. “This is where licensing deals are done and where brand owners meet with licensees and retailers to do product partnerships,” said Jessica Blue, Vice President of the Licensing Expo. The show will run from June 9-11, 2015 and will take place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. With more than 15,700 retailers, licensees, manufacturers, distributors and licensing agents from over 90 different countries, attendees can be sure they will find exactly what brands they are looking for at the Licensing Expo.
The show has approximately 5,000 brands represented on the floor, with close to 500 booths. The expo takes up around 228,000 net square feet and is merchandised into five zones: Character and Entertainment, Art and Design, Brands and Agents, Sourcing and Production. “Every type of brand you can think of, whether it is a celebrity brand, a toy brand, a fashion brand, a food brand, an art brand – they are all represented at Licensing Expo,” said Blue. “Our campaign itself is ‘From Food to Fashion and Everything in Between.’” The Licensing Expo has a high retention rate so a lot of their customers come back year after year. This year the show anticipates having between 150 to 160 new exhibitors.
The Licensing Expo has made new additions to the show, ones that Blue says are must-sees, especially for attendees who have never been. They have launched a new sports area where Night Show Circus will be performing stunts everyday. There are also two free keynotes, and the most significant change to the show, the launching of the Digital Media Licensing Summit. “We are seeing the way kids, teens and even adults are interacting with content is changing. Licensing is very content driven, a lot of licensing partnerships are based on it – movie content, TV content and we are seeing a whole new breed of content which is online – digital, Youtubers,” said Blue. “We have launched this summit to help our attendees and exhibitors navigate this new world, and understand how they can interact with this new content and build consumer product programs around it. It truly is really different, it is a new frontier for licensing.”
Before heading off to the expo there are a few things attendees should keep in mind. Blue recommends planning ahead as much as possible in order to get the most out of your time there. “It is not the kind of show where you just show up and not have at least some kind of plan for your time. There are 13 conference sessions, which actually start the day before the show and then continue throughout the duration, so you would want to plan your time – which conference sessions do you want to go to, which keynotes you want to see, some of them are free, some of them are not,” said Blue. “I would advise to really plan your time, reach out in advance if there are certain companies you really want to see, use our My Show Planner feature on the website and contact them in advance. It is a very appointment driven show and exhibitors like to have pre-arranged appointments.”
The amount of retailers attending this show has grown exponentially, with a 33% increase in comparison of last year and the year previous to that. Blue says she thinks retailers are now really starting to see the benefit of licensing and how partnering with the right licensed company could bring something exclusive to their stores. “It is a great way to differentiate themselves with their competitors. We are seeing so many more retailers coming along; it is their one chance to hear direct from the brand owners what the brand strategy is, directly from the people that own the brand, and I think retailers are really appreciating the opportunity to do that and compare and contrast brands all in one day.” The Licensing Expo also offers a retailer lounge on the show floor exclusively for their use. “There is coffee and tea all day, you can leave your coat, there are places to charge your phone – it is an oasis on the show floor where you can have your meetings with colleagues, so I would say to definitely make use of that onsite.”